Connect with us

Articles of 2002

ANTI-PROMOTER VIEW NOT NECESSARILY THE HEALTHIEST ONE TO HAVE

Published

on

One thing I've noticed when I look over the Muhammad Ali Act, and the new legislation that will supplement it – the so-called “United States Boxing Amendments Act” – it's painfully obvious there is a bias toward the fighter and against the promoter.

And this bias has been confirmed during the hearings the Senate has had regarding the legislation, where there is hardly a voice present to stand up for the other side when the discussion turns to the rampant “exploitation of fighters”.

I don't think I'm being unfair when I say it seems as if John McCain's staff invited Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones, and a few other fighters into a conference room, asked them what should be in the bill, and kept everyone else in the business out of the dialogue.

Nothing wrong with the concept of protecting fighters. I'm obviously all for it.

But the result of this slanted view, as you know if you've been reading this comprehensive look inside the boxing industry, is legislation that is going to be ineffective at best, and harmful at worst. Either way, it simply doesn't properly reflect the state of affairs in this industry, because the people who have drafted it have not consulted with the kind of people who can give them a proper, objective, intelligent overview of it. And that's no one's fault but their own.

But I think, if for no other reason than so that no one goes off half-cocked, that before we go any further in exploring what should be done about promoters, that we establish something which is absolutely fundamental to the discussion.

Whether anyone likes it or not, the role of the promoter is the lifeblood of boxing. Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – in this business ever happens without a promoter somewhere deciding to take a step forward and put on a show.

So those people in Washington who have contemplated the various ways of prejudicing the promoter in favor of the boxer, whether it is justifiable or not, should keep this one fact in mind – when you cripple the promoters, you run the very real risk of crippling the business.

And I know there are a whole legion of people out there who think the networks need to be licensed as promoters. I hear it all the time – THE NETWORKS ARE PROMOTERS. An argument, I guess, can be crafted in support of this, depending on the kind of definition you want to use for “promoter”. Should they be licensed? Quite possibly, yes. And that will be a subject we're to tackle later on. But are they promoters, in either the traditionally-accepted sense or the real-world sense that we outlined for you in the previous chapter? Not really.

When compared to promoters, as we look at them in terms of the traditional view, networks don't arrange for the box office, or the ring setup; they don't rent venues, they don't make undercard fights. They don't buy ads in the local paper. They don't depend in any way, shape, or form on a live gate to exist. And if we're comparing networks to the “promoter as packager” – they don't construct the package but in fact have the packages pitched to THEM, don't they? And networks generally don't get involved with a fighter until he is already developed to some extent – promoters are the ones who invest the money to develop the fighter.

When we explore issues regarding promoters, we are not lashing out against promoters in general; we ARE, however, going to take issue – strongly – with promoters who abuse the power they have as a result of their promotional agreements, who blatantly rob money from fighters, who don't fulfill the terms of their contracts, who participate in false advertising, who succeed in business by bribing people from the sanctioning bodies.

Other than that, I don't really have a problem with them, and I'm not being facetious. I don't really blame promoters for taking some liberties here or there – they're just playing the game within whatever conditions the current rules allow. If regulators and legislators haven't proven capable of establishing laws that would curtail certain activities and govern certain specific business practices, whose fault is that? And who can really blame a promoter for taking advantage of the overall state of chaos?

The stars you see and appreciate on television – people like Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Fernando Vargas, Felix Trinidad, Floyd Mayweather, even Bernard Hopkins and Lennox Lewis – didn't get where they are all by themselves. No, they weren't completely manufactured, but their value has no doubt been enhanced by promoters who knew what they were doing.

The manner in which promotional contracts should be dealt with is going to be a subject for succeeding chapters in this text – you can rest assured of that. But for now, let me say that if you hinder the ability of promoters to contract with fighters, you may very well risk removing all the incentive from promoters to build, nurture, and develop the careers of fighters, many of whom will go on to become gate and TV attractions who help to feed this business.

And let me dispel another notion the general public – and fighters as well – have about promoters. I can't tell you how many times I have heard the quote, “They're making so much money off us”. Well, through the years I have seen enough of the promotional end of this industry to know better. I'm sitting here thinking about all the guys who put on a show and worked their asses off for one, two, three months, only to wind up losing money at the end of it, and I'm wondering if any of you out there would like to try that on for size.

Ask yourself this question – if making money at promoting fights is such a slam dunk proposition, why doesn't every manager who wants to build a fighter's record simply find someone to “beard” for a series of promotions, rather than sign away rights to a promoter right from the start of their fighter's career? And why isn't there at least one successful fight club in every Top 100 market in the United States?

And if you think having television constitutes such an absolute a guarantee of making money on a fight show, think again. That's not the reality – not all the time, anyway. I've seen it, so no one has to tell me differently.

Are there promoters who go into shows with no risk, who in effect have their money made irregardless of their ability to sell tickets? Absolutely.

But what gets lost in all of that is the money that is invested in the development of a fighter, during that period of time when it makes no difference to anyone but the fighter's connections and the promoter himself that he is on a fight card. Consider what the “opportunity cost” of that is.

It's clear that there is more than what can be seen on the surface, isn't there?

So doesn't it make sense to put the narrow perspective on the shelf and undertake a much more objective analysis of this whole thing?

Certainly, we'll admonish the promoter when he's wrong, but make no mistake about it – we need him, and the role he fills, and he needs to be appreciated at least to a certain degree when implementing any responsible steps in the direction of boxing reform.

fightpage@totalaction.com

Copyright 2002 Total Action Inc.

Articles of 2002

$*%@#!

Published

on

Walk the dog, stroll through the park, have a picnic at the lake.
There are safer things for IBF cruiserweight champ Vassily Jirov to do this month than defend his title against James “Lights Out” Toney.
Barbecue, play softball, fish, visit the zoo. Thank his lucky stars.
Jirov, who lives in California, won’t be fighting Toney on HBO on Jan. 25.
Something to do with his insides.
Ask Toney why Jirov pulled out of their fight and he’ll tell you it was Jirov’s heart that let him down, his backbone that went soft, not his banged-up ribs. Ask Toney and he’ll tell you about heartbreak and lies and revenge and fighting anybody in the universe if it means another title. Jirov claims he suffered the damage while sparring. Maybe. But it’s the fourth time Jirov has found a reason not to fight Toney. How many times you got to be told to go home before you realize the guy doesn’t want to come outside and play? How many times you got to be bit by the same dog before you realize it wants to be left alone? Jirov has more excuses than a politician caught with a hooker on his lap.
In his own eloquent way, Toney recently described how disappointed he was in the cancellation of their title fight on the undercard of the Vernon Forrest – Ricardo Mayorga welterweight title fight.
“The @#%$%*&#@,’’ Toney said after learning of the postponement on Christmas Eve. “Jirov can @&%$#% and then he can @%$#@#$. He’s nothing but a #$%#@#.’’ That said, it doesn’t brighten up the New Year in the Toney household.
“I’m done with it,’’ said Toney, sounding like a guy who finally gets tried of being stood up by the same girl.
As of Dec. 30, there was still no word of an opponent for Toney, though he’s still making regular trips to the gym.
Merry Christmas, James. Have a Happy New Year.
“Bah, humbug,’’ said Toney’s promoter Dan Goossen. “We didn’t have much of a Christmas. I got the news on Christmas Eve. But you just have to bounce back.’’ Funny thing about fighters. Some make excuses, some fight through them. You get the feeling Toney could have cracked five ribs and his right tibia and still climbed into the ring against Jirov.
It raises a lot of questions. What’s Jirov got against fighting? After a busy 2001, he hasn’t fought since last February. How do you hold a title after you’ve gone into retirement? Just who is this guy and why does he like to hide? Is there really a Vassily Jirov out there, or is he a creation of the IBF, a shadowy figure who won the title and decided it was too big a risk to keep defending it? The bottom line is, Toney may be left with a lot of unexpected free time on his hands if they don’t find him another fight, though he knew better than to mark the date on his calendar in ink. There are no promises in boxing. When dealing with a guy like Jirov, all bets are off. But Toney can still hope. The name O’Neil Bell – the WBC’s No. 1 challenger – has been knocked around, and Toney said he doesn’t care what contender or champion he knocks out on Jan. 25. “#@#$%$#,’’ Toney said.
You can say that again.

Continue Reading

Articles of 2002

New Year's Resolutions

Published

on

A new year is upon us, which means it's time for new years resolutions. Yeah, never mind that most resolutions are broken, oh, around the third week of January; everybody still makes them.

Here are my resolutions that I'd make for some of the luminaries in the sport of boxing.

* Floyd Mayweather: No more excuses. Anyone else sick of listening to 'the Pretty Boy' whine about what ailments he came into the fight with? Whether it's his fragile hands, a bum shoulder or his squabbles with his promoter Bob Arum, he always has an alibi. Hey Floyd, nobody cares, you get paid plenty to perform and those that buy tickets don't care that you might have a hangnail; they want nothing but the best effort out of you.

Mayweather reminds me of former Los Angeles Dodger slugger Mike Marshall, who's second home seemed to be the disabled list. The bottom line is this guy is lucky to be a boxer where he only has to perform once every 6 months- he simply couldn't handle the rigors of an NBA, NFL or baseball season. Ask any athlete if they are ever 100-percent healthy after the first day of training camp or spring training and they'll laugh at you.

Injuries and ailments are a part of the job, overcoming them is what makes a true professional. Mayweather still hasn't grasped that concept.

* Jim Gray: Respect. I guess this little weasel is whom Aretha Franklin was talking about in her song. Think about it, have you ever seen a guy be so disrespectful to fighters in post-fight interviews like this guy. Don't even mention HBO's Larry Merchant- he isn't afraid to ask the tough questions like a true journalist and he's consistent. Gray looks at boxing as a secondary gig and looks down on boxers in general.

Don't believe me? Just compare and contrast his softball interviews that he does for NBC and the hatchet jobs he does on Showtime.

* Max Kellerman: No more over-hyping New York boxers. Look, I get along and respect Max, but when you look up the term 'East Coast Bias' in Webster's, his picture may be used as the definition of it. From Zab Judah to James Butler and to Tokumbo Olajide, he'll have you enshrined in Canastota if you come out of the Big Apple.

What's worse are the excuses he'll come up with for his New Yorkers when they fall on their faces. Max is great for boxing but he's gotta realize New York hasn't been a player on the boxing scene for at least 20 years.

* Crocodile: A new catchphrase. You know Crocodile, right? He was Mike Tyson's hype-man for all these years…the guy with the menacing shades and the army fatigues who used to scream, “GUERILLA WARFARE” at the top of his lungs over and over again.

I've heard that enough and it's about as played out as 'Whoop, there it is' and it's time he came up with a new one. All the great ones can add to their repertoire.

* HBO: Admit they acknowledge the titles. Stop being the Hypocritical Boxing Organization and just stop saying that you don't recognize these organizations. The latest example of their double-talk? Well, for years they dogged John Ruiz and his WBA title, suddenly Roy Jones challenges Ruiz and HBO is hyping this up as some sort of historic challenge of a light heavyweight trying to capture a heavyweight title.
Yeah, the same title they had basically trashed for years.

* Joe Cortez: No more over-officiating. His line is that,' He's firm but he's fair'. I'd argue about that the last couple of years but my biggest gripe with him is that he seems to make himself waaaaay too visible during fights and gets too involved. Nobody is there to watch him and he should just let the fighters fight.
Too often I see these fights with Cortez lose their flow as Cortez continually interrupts the action with his admonishments and warnings. Joe, take a step back and let us watch what we came to see.

* Don Turner: Stop living off of Holyfield-Tyson I- If you ever talk to this guy, he'll talk as though he invented boxing. And his big coup was co-training Evander Holyfield against Mike Tyson. 'The Real Deal' upset Tyson and suddenly Turner was being hailed as the new Chappie Blackburn and he became a media darling.

My question is this, did he suddenly teach Holyfield how to fight 35 fights into his career? Also, I contend that my mother and I could work Holyfield's corner and he would whip Tyson everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. And ask yourself this, when was the last time he was in the winning corner for a big fight?

* Newspaper writers: Start crediting the Internet. Ok, this is a sore subject with me, but too many times I've seen stories from the major newspaper scribes who amazingly have stories that are eerily similar to stories that I've read on the internet (or that I've written myself) and use quotes that I got in one-on-one interviews and they don't attribute their sources- the internet.

When I take quotes or info from a story I make a point to give credit where it's due. Now, I just wish these guys would do the same.

* Roy Jones: no more hip-hop entrances. Roy, you're a magnificently gifted prizefighter, you can also play just a bit of hoops, but your rhyming skills are that of Shaquille O'Neal. In other words, you're doing street nursery rhymes not Nas.

Please, oh please, stop embarrassing yourself and the sport with your cheesy as nacho's attempt to become a hip-hop performer. His last entrance/performance reminded me of one of those really bad Sir-Mix-Alot videos of the early 90's.

* Panama Lewis: an exit out of the game. You remember Lewis right, the guy who gave Aaron Pryor the mysterious white bottle before the 14th round of his bout against Alexis Arguello, which seemed to give 'the Hawk' a sudden burst of energy that enabled Pryor to brutally KO Arguello. Afterwards, Pryor would skip out on his post-fight drug test.

Then there was the fight with Luis Resto, where he would tamper with his gloves between rounds, and bearing the brunt of this tomfoolery was Billy Collins who's faced was turned into a bloody mess. Collins, in the aftermath of this brutality committed suicide. For this, Lewis was banned permanently from working a corner. But that doesn't mean that he can't go into the gym and train fighters and even attend fights.

The bottom line is simple, this man has no place in the game of boxing and boxing shouldn't tolerate him in any way.

* Cedric Kushner: no more gimmicks. This guy has tried everything from the disastrous 'ThunderBox' to one-day $100,000 heavyweight tournaments- and all have failed miserably.

He can put on a boxing version of 'Survivor' or 'Real World' if he wants but the reality is, boxing fans want good fights and interesting fighters, nothing more, nothing less.

Stop with the shenanigans and stop with the junk.

Continue Reading

Articles of 2002

Dream Fights of 2003

Published

on

Hey, we can all dream, right? Isn't it our God-given right as boxing fans to think about fights that should happen – but often times don't?

And not just fights that have the highest profile or the biggest names – because sometimes those fights, like Lewis vs. Tyson – are nothing more than high-profile mismatches. I'm talking about fights that are evenly matched between the game's best and are the most intriguing inside the ring.

Here are some fights I'd pay to see in the upcoming year; full well knowing that most of these fights are pipe dreams as the business end of the sport would bog these fights down quickly. But hey, we can dream right?

* Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Erik Morales or Marco Antonio Barrera: Name me another fighter that has never won a world title belt that is better than Marquez? You can't and this guys been ducked and dodged long enough. On February 1st he takes on Manuel Medina for the vacant IBF featherweight title and it says here that he should face one of the game's best known 126-pounders, either Morales or Barrera. Marquez is a master boxer with great counter-punching skills and his hand-speed would give either one of his Mexican compatriots fits. There are some in the industry who have been saying for a while that Marquez is already the game's premiere featherweight; I'm not inclined to disagree that strongly.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: With Barrera, not good, as Ricardo Maldonado sees no real upside in this match-up and would most likely take an easier fight on HBO for about the same amount of money he could make facing Marquez.

With Morales, the logistics are much less complicated. Both of them are promoted by Bob Arum and there is some talk that they could face each other in May if a Morales-Barrera III isn't made.

* Bernard Hopkins vs. Roy Jones: Not only because it's a match-up of two of the very premiere fighters in the world, but Hopkins needs to resume his career with some meaningful fights and Jones should be fighting guys like 'the Executioner' instead of participating in novelty acts like his proposed bout with John Ruiz.

And don't think for one minute that this would be a blowout. Jones couldn't blowout a green Hopkins in 1993 and won't be able to do it now. Hopkins, unlike most of Jones' opponents, isn't in total awe of Pensacola's finest.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: Not good, Sharon and Arafat will find a common ground regarding the Middle East before these two proud and stubborn men find one in contract negotiations.

* Oscar De La Hoya vs. Vernon Forrest: For fans of pure boxing and strategy this is a fight that can't be missed. Both men have strong jabs and match-up well physically. 'The Golden Boy' has the better left hook and 'The Viper' has a more effective right hand. Between these two well-schooled boxers you can expect a tense and tight boxing match with subtle momentum swings round by round.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: For 2003, not very good because it looks like Oscar will be fighting once in the upcoming year – a September rematch against Shane Mosley – and Bob Arum has stated that Forrest simply brings nothing to the table promotionally. This can be interpreted as another way of saying that he's not Latin, too dangerous or just another black fighter who can't sell a ticket. The bottom line seems to be that unless Forrest raises his profile in the upcoming years, De La Hoya will be facing guys that make economic sense.

* Floyd Mayweather vs. Kostya Tszyu: This would be a face off of the sport's premier lightweight against the game's best jr. welterweight. 'The Pretty Boy' would bring speed, quickness and boxing ability to the dance. While Tszyu would bring a decided edge in strength, size and punching power. They say styles make fights and you have two contrasting ones here.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: Not likely. This is for a couple of reasons. First, Vlad Wharton who promotes Tszyu, is seemingly deathly afraid to take any risks with Tszyu, who's basically his cash cow. Secondly, Mayweather got a reality check from his two bouts with Jose Luis Castillo, who at 135 pounds was able to muscle him throughout their 24 rounds they fought in 2002. And Tszyu is faster, sharper and just as strong as Castillo. I'm not sure Mayweather is in any rush to make the move up to 140-pounds.

* Lennox Lewis vs. Wladimir Klitschko: The industry is always better off when there is action in the heavyweight division. So why even mess around by having Lewis take on 'the other' Klitschko or knock out Tyson again; getting right in there with the man most pundits are claiming is the heir to his throne in Wlad Klitschko?

The time is now, Lewis is getting up there in age and really doesn't have that much left in his gas tank anyway and it would be prudent for him to face Klitschko now before he gets any better. Remember, that's the tact they took in facing Michael Grant when they did – but it has to be noted that Klitschko is much better than Grant.

Lewis would have the advantages in experience and savvy, but for one of the few times in his career he would be facing a disadvantage in size and perhaps power. The two best big men on the planet squaring off, what else could you ask for?

CHANCES OF HAPPENING: Actually pretty good, since Lewis himself has stated his plans to take on both Klitschkos in between his rematch with Tyson. But with Don King now making a full court press to garner the services of Lewis, who knows what direction he goes to now.

Continue Reading

Trending